Marion County mental health worse than national average

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 27, 2015)– A recent study by the Marion County Health Department paints a depressing picture about the state of teenage mental health in Indianapolis.

“We estimated that at least 170,000 children in Marion County between the ages of nine and 17 years of age is experiencing a mental health illness and has also resulted in an impairment of some sort,” said Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine, “and 16 percent of our Marion County 12-17 year olds are diagnosed with depression. It is 12 percent nationally so we’re four percent higher.”

Mental health challenges don’t end with the teenage years, according to Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.

Riggs toldĀ a gathering of public safety and health officials at the Regional Operations Center that living in one of Indianapolis’ six target hot zones for crime can be a mental struggle.

“Something was really surprising when we started pulling this data together,” he said. “When you look at the citizens and neighbors and friends who live in these areas, they have an over 200 percent likelihood to suffer from a mental illness than anywhere else in Indianapolis.”

Riggs and Caine said mental health issues lead to crime and additional public safety costs as police and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department struggle with patients and offenders who would be better off in a care environment as opposed to jail.

“When we started talking to the sheriff’s office,” said Riggs, “and they did their presentation and said the sheriff’s office every year pays close to $8 million for services because of individuals with mental illness.”

Caine said the Marion County Public Health Department will hold a Steering Committee summit March 5 at Ivy Tech.